Ramallah: The death of two patients in two days in Gaza, both denied exit to access life-saving treatment outside of the Strip, underscores once again the brutal aspect of the Israeli siege of Gaza. "This is unacceptable, contrary to all humanitarian principles and laws, and still Israel continues unhindered. If the political will existed, these deaths could be avoided", commented Dr. Barghouthi MP, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative. He added that the more than 10 Palestinian deaths in Gaza since August because of denied access to medical treatment are tantamount to premeditated murder.
Eight-year-old Amir Shaher Abdallah El-Yazji died on Monday 19 November 2007 after the Israeli military delayed his passage through Erez crossing to Ichilov hospital in Israel despite having the necessary permit to enter.
Two days before, on Saturday 17 November, twenty-one-year-old Na’el Al-Kurdi died in Gaza City in similar circumstances. Al-Kurdi, who suffered from cancer, was repeatedly denied permission from Israeli authorities to travel to Egypt, where he was to be treated. In a testimony given two weeks before his death, Na’el declared: "My family and I were shocked by Israel’s refusal. I am constantly worried that the disease will spread throughout my body before I receive the treatment. I have been sick for more than a year." He added: "They can’t treat me [here] and I can only sit and wait until I die."
The referral of Gazan patients abroad to receive life-saving treatment used to be normal practice, but since January 2006 the number of patients permitted to leave the Strip has slowed to a trickle, causing numerous unnecessary deaths.
The latest increase in the Israeli stranglehold on the Strip since June 2007 has made things even worse, and the denial of access to treatment is now common, widespread, and part of a wider, systematic policy of collective punishment imposed by Israel on Gaza. This was consolidated by Israel’s declaration of Gaza as a "hostile entity" in September 2007, which Dr. Barghouthi labelled "an effort by the Israeli government to continue its complete evasion of all principles of human rights and international law."
Dr. Barghouthi urged the international community to meet its obligations as High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention and to pressure Israel to reverse the measures of collective punishment imposed on the inhabitants of Gaza and to lift its siege on the Strip.
He concluded that the unnecessary and avoidable death of an eight-year-old child days before the Annapolis conference further revealed Israel’s disregard for Palestinian lives, underlining that Annapolis will not help the people of Gaza because it entrenches Palestinian disunity, sidelines democracy, and ignores Israeli violations of human rights.